Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Lost Years

Graduation from college didn't change my general philosophy about running. Basically it consisted of the belief that less is more. I spent about eight years in what I would call a running wilderness. Training was haphazard, racing was haphazard, and with crazy, ever changing hours that working in a television newsroom could bring, staying disciplined was a challenge.

I lived everywhere. I first moved out to Eugene, Oregon leaving a part-time job in Kansas City because I loved the community and its place in running history. I had the good fortune to cover the 1976 Olympic Trials as a radio journalist and the experience was overwhelming. The community oozed track and field. The 76 trip led to my ill-fated move to Eugene in September of 1978.

My television career didn't go anywhere but the short time I spent there left an indelible mark on my psyche. I can remember sitting on the side of a hill next to the old cinder track that used to sit between Hayward Field and MacArthur Court watching an incredible repeat two mile workout which featured Bill McChesney, Rudy Chapa, and Alberto Salazar. The trip actually paid off professionally in the end because the connections I made in Eugene eventually landed me a major market job less than a year out of college.

I landed my first full time television gig in Minneapolis moving there in January 1979. Talk about a difficult running environment. But when spring finally sprung it was running nirvana. Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the trials that surrounded three major lakes south of downtown I had great places to run. I even broke three hours for a second time at Grandma's Marathon. It's a great race if you ever get the chance.

From Minneapolis it was down to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1980 where I came face to face with the worst heat wave in the United States in the last 40 years. I would leave for work at 1 p.m. and the bank clock temperature gauge would read 105. It was that way for a month. I was doing runs at midnight to beat the heat.

Later that fall I finally landed a job back in Kansas City where I managed to stick around for seven years. The running was always the same, off and on. I remember running Hospital Hill in 1981 and barely breaking 1:30. I recall a great trip out to Atwood for their 10 mile race where I ran about 65 minutes but enjoyed the excellent company of some great KU runners, Tim Tays, Bob Luder, and Ted Crank. I remember going out to Eugene and running an 8K in just under 30 minutes. I ran a couple of out of shape marathons unable to break three hours.

I could never string together more than a couple of months of consistent training together and rarely would I run more than 40 miles in a week. It was frustrating because I knew that I still had some gas left in the tank. It all changed when I turned 30. But that story will have to wait for another time.

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